“Riding off-road is no cakewalk” is what many cyclists say. Well, neither is cycling a cakewalk for a complete beginner. But, we all can always learn.
Off-roading like a professional requires a lot of practice as tough roads and mountains can be unforgiving if you don’t ride properly. And here, SpokeHerd would like to list a few tips to get started with off-roading and transitioning into a pro.
With so many terrains to explore across India, off-roading is an exciting experience. Though it looks difficult on the surface, a few tricks and techniques will help you to ride like an expert.
Prepare, Prepare, and Prepare:
With regards to off-roading, there is nothing known as being prepared enough. Wandering into the unknown is exciting while also dangerous. So, preparation should never be neglected.
Tire health is a major concern. Check if it is fit enough for off-roading or gets it replaced. Also, tire pressure needs to be perfect as rocks, rough terrains are ruthless for your cycles’ tires.
Also, the gear you are wearing for the ride needs to be tailored for off-roading. Mountain bike boots, waterproof clothing, gloves are a must. Likewise, wearing gear like elbow pads, knee guards, and helmets is also non-negotiable.
Be comfortable with your bike:
First things first, it is extremely important to be comfortable with your bicycle, its design, weight, etc. An uncomfortable saddle or stiff brakes can be a headache for sure.
More the miles you have clocked on that bicycle, the better it is while you ride as personal comfort is created. If some of these miles have been on rough terrains, it is an added advantage before off-roading completely.
Also, please avoid renting a fresh cycle or borrowing a friend’s cycle while starting to off-road. It can be uncomfortable and dangerous too.
Focus forward and relax:
While going for an off-road ride, it is essential to be calm. This will help you keep your focus intact and concentrate well on the way ahead. And off-roading and rugged terrains demand more of that.
Knowing the terrain in advance is a key to riding safely while still having fun. You need not know every curve and slope which will compromise the excitement part of off-roading. But, you should have a fair idea of the circuit.
Listening to music or talking to others is highly discouraged while off-roading as it is a recipe for disaster.
Practice makes a man perfect:
Off-roading is not the same as riding on the streets. It requires practice. And the more you ride, the more you improve. So, riding frequently is a tip to get better at off-roading.
Also, there needs to be proper scheduling of your cycling time. Off-roading is a highly intensive activity and can take a toll on your body. Hence, planning the journey with adequate rest before and after the ride is needed.
Pace Your Ride Well:
For beginners, ‘start slowly’ is common advice. But, for off-roading, this advice may not be the best. Given the uncertain slopes and climbs, riding slowly can make the cyclist exert themselves quickly.
However, this should not be a reason to ride carelessly. Pacing one’s ride is extremely important. In wet areas, riding at a steady pace with minimal braking is advisable. Going too slow in such areas can lead to unnecessary stopping on wet rocks and roots.
Also, while riding on mud, strong pedaling is a must. It is important to know that off-roading is as much about momentum as it is about skills. So, plan your ride well and pace it accordingly.
Master the braking mechanism:
Just like the tires, brakes too play a key role in keeping you safe while off-roading especially in the mountains. Whether it is uphill and down the slope, being comfortable with the brakes helps to prevent you from getting toppled off on the road.
On a mud, rock, and slope-filled excursion, brakes can be your savior. However, they should not be your number 1 safety mechanism. Your pacing and maneuvering skills are your priority. Look at brakes as a complement to your ride and not as a weapon.
Experience is an excellent teacher. And learning from other’s experiences is known to be a very good approach. So observe how others handle certain situations and adopt the techniques which look like a good fit for you too.
For this, starting off-road in a group is recommended. Going out with professionals, watching them, and observing the craft is an underrated technique to get better at off-roading.
All of these points should not scare you away from starting your off-roading journey because avid cyclists feel there is nothing better than this for cycling lovers. They are just to make you more equipped for a favorable off-roading experience. SpokeHerd hopes this articulation instills belief and directs you towards being a better off-road cyclist.